Here's to Celebrating National Honey Bee Day

Hear that buzz?

National Honey Bee Day is Saturday, Aug. 19 and you're invited to join this oh-so-sweet celebration!

Launched in 2009, National Honey Bee Day takes place on the third Saturday of August. The event originated when a small group of beekeepers petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture "to honor" the honey bees and beekeepers., a Los Angeles-based honey bee educational non-profit organization, manages National Honey Bee Day and boosts "the educational outreach, community action and advocacy efforts to protect the health and well-being of honey bees," according to its website.

California Master Beekeeper Program. While we're honoring bees, we should also honor the UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP), founded and directed by Elina Lastro Niño,associate professor of Cooperative Extension and a member of the faculty of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.

Niño and co-program manager Wendy Mather are the recipients of a Faculty-Staff Partnership Award, sponsored by the UC Davis Staff Assembly. The duo will be honored at the invitational Staff Assembly Awards and Recognition Celebration on Sept. 12 at the UC Davis International Center. UC Davis Chancellor Gary May will participate.

Niño and Mather were singled out for "outstanding achievements and notable contributions" in disseminating science-based beekeeping information through a network of organizations and trained volunteers since 2016.

"The award seeks to highlight teams who actively develop and encourage faculty/staff partnerships and as a result are able to make notable contributions to UC Davis that contribute to the University's Mission of Teaching, Research, and Service; and who exemplify outstanding achievement and/or service," according to Staff Assembly officials.

At the time of the nomination (March 15, 2023), CAMBP had

  • Given 32,000 hours of volunteer time (Beneficial Educational Experiences) and served 186,630 individuals in education, outreach and beekeeping mentorship. If a volunteer hour is worth $26.87, the program has given $859,840 back to the state of California in service of science-based beekeeping and honey bee health.
  • Enrolled 185 Honey Bee Ambassadors (a level established in 2021), 494 Apprentice, 93 Journey level candidates and certified 20 Master level beekeepers. There are 12 members in 2023 participating in their Master Capstone projects.
  • Recorded 3752 hours since the team began tracking Continuing Education Experiences in 2020.
  • Embarked on a project updating a safety manual.

National Honey Bee Day is also a good opportunity to learn about bees, our mini-agricultural workers that pollinate one-third of the food we eat.

Honey Bee Biology. Bee scientist Brian Johnson, associate professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, has written an informative, comprehensive book titled Honey Bee Biology (2023, Princeton University Press) with a forward by Thomas Seeley, Horace White Professor in Biology Emeritus at Cornell University.  It's meant for bee scientists, beekeepers and bee enthusiasts.

The 19 chapters hone in on Natural History, Systematics and Phylogenetics; Development; Development; Anatomy and Physiology; Genetics and Genomics; Neurobiology; Neuroethology and Cognitive Science; Reproduction; Evolution; Life History, Ecology, and Nesting Biology; the Honey Bee Colony Is a Superorganism; Division of Labor; Communication, Labor Allocation, and Collective Decision Making; Chemical Ecology; Foraging; Tropical Honey Bees; Immunity, Parasites, Pests and Pathogens; Detoxification and Pesticides; and Honey Bees as Managed Pollinators.

The book includes 16 color plates (images contributed by Kathy Keatley Garvey), spotlighting a bee egg, bee castes, swarms and almond pollination, among others.

Princeton University Press bills the book as "the first up-to-date general reference of its kind published in decades. It is a must-have resource for social insect biologists, scientifically savvy beekeepers, and any scientist interested in bees as a model system."

Among his many honors and recognitions, Johnson was part of The UC Davis Bee Team that won the 2012 Team Award from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America. Other members: Extension apiculturist  Eric Mussen (1944-2022);  systematist/hymenopterist Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology;  native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp (1933-2019) emeritus professor of entomology; and pollination ecologist Neal Williams (now professor) who specializes in pollination and bee biology.